“The idea,” says the 64-year-old Dutchman known as the father of the influential New Perennial movement, “is not to copy nature, but to give a feeling of nature.” In Piet Oudolf’s gardens–from private landscapes in Europe to public parks in Chicago and New York–towering grasses catch the breeze and masses of flowering plants provide flashes of color. Including brown: “Dying in an interesting way is just as important as living.” Oudolf’s latest project is planting the High Line, a long-abandoned 1.5-mile elevated railway in Manhattan. “It will tell a story as you walk along, from a woodland idea into meadow, from monocultures into more complex layering,” he says. “You can analyze it if you want. But really, what you see is what it is.” — by Denise B. Martin
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